Day 16: The Freedom of Empathy

Day 16: The Freedom of Empathy

Change in most cases does not come easy however, occasionally it happens without consent. Sitting at the stop light at Speer and Blake I see the same group of homeless individuals regularly. Living and working downtown I feel as though I am almost numb and accustomed to their signs and pleas for help. While these have been thoughts within my head for some time now, I feel a wave of guilt writing this down and looking at these words on the page. I am ashamed.

I think back to when I was younger and I know that I was not always this far removed from the idea of helping. If change is so hard, why is it that I don’t ever remember making a decision to stop caring for those who have less? I honestly do not have a good answer to this question. I suppose that over the years one stop light at a time, I just “wrote off” helping. At each of those stop lights (at least 3 times a day in Denver) I have always felt bad for those individuals, but my attitude has never been anything more than sympathetic.

Sympathy. The English Dictionary defines sympathy as “the sharing of another’s emotions, especially of sorrow or anguish; pity; compassion”.

I “shared” their sorrow from the comfort of my car; A/C on, windows up and doors locked – clearly sharing a lot through the windows. Somehow my sympathy for them had been diluted to this. I had dehumanized their pleas. I had convinced myself that I was better off not trying, that my help would not change the situation.

Knowing that I craved a change of heart and that I was made for more than this– I made a personal decision and joined 25 in Change. Actively seeking to change the lives and fate of our global community; I set out to feed my soul and make a change. The past 16 days have been life altering, and have set in motion a chain of events which will continue to change me long after these 25 days have come and gone. In these few days I now know empathy in a way that I never knew before. Not just as a definition, but as a memory of this experience.

Empathy. The English dictionary defines empathy as “the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings”.

I will never truly know what it will mean to be born into chronic hunger, nor will I struggle with being obese as a child. I can, however, empathize on a new, deeper, level and make a personal choice to make a difference.

One of my all-time favorite writers is Ralph Waldo Emerson. I would like to leave you with his thoughts rather than more of mine:

“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that…That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming”.

What are you becoming?


~Jenny Usaj